What an amazing day at Exploration. I spent most of the day facilitating a workshop entitled: “Living in a Fishbowl: Being a Young Adult in Ministry” which was a panel discussion on any questions the participants might have about ministry. It was a great time and was such a blessing to hear the questions that were asked. The questions revealed that many are really wrestling with a call from God and in what capacity that call may be lived out in their lives.
If I were to give any theme to my day of conversations, questions, and experiences it has been this: “Where is God calling me?”
We started off Exploration by talking about our call to ministry that extends to everyone in their baptism and today was narrowing that down to wrestling with and responding to what specific avenue each individual is called to walk down. From some of the conversations I had there seemed to be a struggle within some individuals around ordained vs. lay ministry. One individual shared with me that from that individual’s perspective it seemed like ordained ministry was being communicated the most important ministry. So I wanted to reflect in this space on that subject.
First, lets name something for what it is. Often when anyone seems to have a serious response to their baptismal call, individuals in the church want to encourage that individual to explore and consider ordained ministry. This can often lead to a sense that “ordained” ministry is the only “real” ministry, but I would argue that those individuals aren’t saying that ordained ministry is superior but rather trying to make sure individuals consider that God may be calling them to ordained ministry.
You see I think this comes from a very real thing: ordained ministry can be scary for many people and often individuals never think they are “gifted enough” or “qualified” for ordained ministry or that ordained ministry is even a possibility for them. Often if it isn’t named or encouraged people will hear that call from God and think it can’t be toward ordained ministry. I think many people feel the call of God upon their life but the natural reaction is to think it is everywhere but ordained ministry.
But you see God does call people to ordained ministry and the church wants to be faithful to that call and help people listen and respond. I am reminded of the call of Samuel. Samuel would not have understood his call in the way he did if he didn’t have Eli helping him and naming for him the call God was putting on his life.
For those of you reading this who are attending Exploration, I want you to hear this: God is calling you. It may be to ordained ministry or it may be to lay ministry, but either way God is calling you. That is the journey of discernment. You have to open your life to the possibilities God may be calling you to and listen. The reason for an event like Exploration is to help everyone understand that they are called but to specifically create space where people can see the possibilities that God is calling them to lead the church in ordained ministry. It is not that it is better but rather that it is a reality for some.
In the end though, the challenge is for the church to really understand its call to celebrate and teach the call upon everyone in their baptism. I was struck during Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr.’s sermon with the way he framed discipleship. I purposefully use discipleship because I believe he pointed to the reality of the “call” upon all of us as Christians who are re-made in Christ. Bishop Hayes talked about losing our life to Christ in order to find it. At that point I was struck with this thought which I tweeted: “Here is what I know: If the 700+ gathered here lose their life to Christ it won’t matter if it is ordained or lay.”
That is the truth. The future of the church depends on those gathered in Christ’s name truly surrendering their lives and losing it to Christ. When that begins to happen en masse we will see the Church live into the great blessing Christ has called it to be.
Will you lose your life to Christ and live out that new life in Christ in whatever capacity God may have gifted and called you to live it out?